|Mike McLatchey||7-August-2001||Fetus / Pollution / Sulle Corde di Aries / Clic|
Franco Battiato, as is well known, was an Italian pop singer who for a span in the 70s made a string of very experimental albums that fit very roughly in the vein of groups such as Opus Avantra or Pierrot Lunaire. Battiato on all of these titles (and beyond) set out to create completely new musical forms, and evolved from strange pop and rock realms to systemic and minamalist music before returning to pop music. This chronicles the first four of the eight Battiato titles originally reissued on the Artis label
Fetus (Artis ARCD 025) was his first and arguably not as impressive as his later titles. There are a lot of influences here, Italian popular music, folk, electronic experiments and tape collage all swirled into an unusual tapestry of music. I would say his folk/pop influences show through the strongest here, and with the albums short duration there's not a lot you can sink your teeth into.
Pollution (Artis ARCD 026), however, is a much more successful outing, with the disparate styles blending into a much more cohesive whole. Battiato's music can jump from neo classical to Italian progressive rock (somewhere between Sensations Fix and Le Orme) to space rock like Gong and on to bizarre tape collages with narration. It all adds up to a fascinating and innovative album with more humanity than you'd expect from this type of experimentation.
Sulle Corde Di Aries (Artis ARCD 036) was Battiato's third release and showed his fascination for electronic, minimalist and systemic musics. As such, it is quite similar to "Pollution" except much more electronic based and with a more definitive style. There are also a lot of modern classical strains coming through here and a great spacey feel again reminding me of Sensations Fix or Gong at times. A simply fascinating album.
Clic (Artis ARCD 037) is the Italian version and not the version that was on Island records. It too moves in a far more electronic direction, sounding like an avant garde Klaus Schulze with lots of systemic patterns and neo classical vocals. This is often quoted as his best album, and certainly deserves a listen. The latter three titles, if not all four, all deserve the attention of those into experimental or avant garde rock albums.
(originally reviewed as part of Artis/Cramps Label: Dedicated to the
exploration...., Exposť #7, p. 10, Edited for Gnosis 8/6/01)
Franco Battiatto's solo output between 1972 and 1978 has been released as a "nice price" eight-CD box, which is a great way to get to know one of Italy' s more experimentally minded musicians/composers. The first four albums Fetus, Pollution, Sulle Corde di Aries, and Clic contain experimental rock with ambient, symphonic, minimalistic and musique concrete elements. These albums can compete with the best that Faust and other experimental krautrock bands had to offer. Various keyboards are the dominating instruments on all these albums. The use of guitar, saxophone, oboe and vocals among others, however, adds diversity to the songs. I think that the first four albums are all very much worth hearing if you like experimental music. Pollution and Sulle Corde di Aries are especially good. All albums after Clic show Battiatto venturing off in a much more minimalistic, avant-garde direction.. On M elle le Gladiator, Battiatto freaks out on a church organ, which turns out to be quite mesmerizing. Other people could find this music tedious, however. Unfortunately, later albums like Battiato (aka Za) and L' egitto Prima della Sabie are downright boring experiments where one single piano chord is repeated for about 20 minutes. From a "music theory" viewpoint, these are probably interesting, but they would be of no interest for the casual progressive rock listener.
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